This week I fed an 87 year-old woman.
This was yet another first for me, feeding an older adult. She had just arrived at our floor after a week in the ICU recovering from pneumonia, and was in very bad shape. She had been admitted to the hospital in a dehydrated state, brought on by not having eaten for a week. So when I say I fed her, I'm referring to coaxing her to take one more sip of juice or water, one more tiny piece of fruit.
We also talked a bit, mostly about the Olympic swimmers on the TV. She used to enjoy swimming in the pool. I told her I grew up swimming in fresh water, preferably jumping from a rock or bridge. As the hours passed, her answers became more and more distant and repetitive. The next morning she was sent to a hospice facility, her cards, flowers, and radio stuffed into a plastic bag. As I wrote in her chart later that morning, I noticed she was coded as DNR, or "Do Not Resuscitate." I was glad I had run to the elevator to say goodbye before she left.
Volumes have been written on the moral and ethical dilemmas regarding "quality of life," and who has the right to end a life, even their own. I'm not going to talk about that here. I certainly have my own opinions on the matter, though like a crazed football fan who has never put on cleats, of death I plead the ignorance of a spectator. As a nursing student, I'm learning of the many ways in which humans are fighting death. Sometimes we say we're treating an illness, but I think it's ultimately a war on our mortality that's being waged. Be it with pharmacology or prayer, sometimes we're just trying to convince ourselves that we can paddle against the current of life.
I want to paddle with life, not against it. And when that waterfall comes, I want my hands up in the air. So if you're kind enough to hold my hand when things ain't looking so good, be ready to let go.
Guess I did talk about it.
What do YOU think about it?
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